TV Club

Season 6: I’m Pissed

I knew that the detonation of an H-bomb, which closed Season 5 of Lost, would be a noisy act to follow. But I never expected the show’s creators, always eager to retrace their own steps, would revisit the blast twice in the debut episode of the final season.

The first replay of the blast projects Lost’s characters to a “present” in which Oceanic Airlines 815 completes its flight from Sydney and lands at LAX. Everybody who died in Seasons 1 through 5 now appears to be alive—I’ll reckon even Mr. Eko will show up sooner or later. The other leaves Jack, Kate, Hugo, Jin, James, Miles, et al. on the island where, um, most everyone has miraculously survived the blast with no more damage done to them than if a single stick of dynamite had exploded.

Is this any way to treat a loyal audience? Split the story into two different times and have the characters inhabit both and then cut between them? I haven’t been this pissed at a pop-culture product since DC Comics killed Superman and then brought him back.

Lost has become the show I love to hate because its creators are forever pulling bunnies out of their hats to 1) advance the story and 2) make the previously preposterous plot elements hang together. This special two-hour opener litters the screen with bunnies.

I won’t deny that some of the bunnies resonate at a frequency that makes you take notes. For instance, the episode riffs on death, dying, and the resurrection of the previously dead like a jazz master. You’ve got two men in coffins—John Locke on the beach and Dr. Christian Shephard, Jack’s dad, lost in transit. You’ve got the double burials of Juliet, first from the blast and then in a conventional dirt nap. Jack saves Charlie from choking to death on Oceanic 815 when he pulls a condom filled with dope out of his throat. And Jacob, who endures a flash-cremation moments after Ben slays him with a knife, appears like Banquo’s ghost to Hugo. He gives him a hint on how to save the gravely wounded Sayid: Take him to the temple, Jacob says. And sure enough the healing waters resurrect Sayid after he’s died.

That the creators thought it necessary to throw a big, carved ankh—the Egyptian hieroglyphic character for “eternal life”—into the story only demonstrates how devoted they are to keeping Lost on an infinite loop. By making death so abundant (I’ve lost count of how many people have been shot in the chest) and rebirth so cheap, the creators of Lost have really made it easy for themselves. But now I’m repeating myself from my first dispatch.

I look forward to Seth’s take, because he is the mellow to my jaundiced yellow. But it’s Chad’s account that I crave. He kept my interest in the show alive in Season 5 with his learned if slightly tipsy explanations and apologias for the skitty-skat plots. Heal me, brother Matlin! Bring the show back to life for me!

Slate V: Previously on Lost: LAX

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